SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Trump maintains unproven 'massive' fraud claim as Michigan lawmakers depart his hotel

Washington — President Donald Trump reiterated his unproven claim that there was "massive voter fraud" in Michigan's election on Saturday, a day after he met with Republican lawmakers from the state at the White House.

In Saturday morning tweets,as multiple Michigan lawmakers departed the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the president responded to a joint statement put out by House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake. Their Friday statement suggested the lawmakers used the meeting to focus on COVID-19 relief and not the certification of Michigan's election results.

Chatfield and Shirkey said they have "not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan," which President-elect Joe Biden won by 154,000 votes.

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cherry Capital Airport, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Traverse City, Mich.

"Massive voter fraud will be shown!" Trump tweeted at about 8:15 a.m. Saturday morning in response to a post by Chatfield.

With the eyes of the nation on them and criticisms flying from Democrats, seven Michigan lawmakers traveled to meet with Trump for about an hour on Friday. The visit came as supporters of the president have moved in recent days to overturn the results of the state's election.

Trump's campaign has been claiming that there are enough "illegitimate ballots" in the state to swing the results, but the campaign hasn't provided evidence that would suggest the type of widespread fraud it's alleging. And a Wayne County judge has labeled the campaign's claims "not credible."

The Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet Monday to potentially certify the statewide tallies, which would validate the current results. The states have until Dec. 8 or the "safe harbor" day to certify their results or invite court or congressional intervention.

Chatfield and Shirkey said they highlighted during the White House meeting their desire to see "further federal dollars" appropriated for Michigan as the state deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawmakers also said fraudulent behavior in the election should be taken seriously and the candidates "who win the most votes win elections and Michigan's electoral votes."

"We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and, as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election," Chatfield and Shirkey said.

On Saturday morning, Trump initially retweeted a post from Shirkey about the meeting.

"This is true, but much different than reported by the media. We will show massive and unprecedented fraud!" Trump wrote.

Then, he retweeted a post from Chatfield, saying, "Massive voter fraud will be shown!"

State Sens. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, and Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, two of the seven lawmakers who attended the meeting,were spotted leaving the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on foot on Saturday morning but did not respond to questions about their meeting with Trump or whether Michigan’s election results should be certified.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, Sen. Dan Lauwers and others depart the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Saturday morning, Nov. 21, 2020.

Moments later, Shirkey and Sen. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township, did not respond to questions about the meeting as they loaded their luggage into a black SUV and left the Trump hotel.

A spokeswoman for Shirkey said the majority leader had covered the cost of his D.C. trip, including accommodations. She said he no comment on the president’s tweet from Saturday morning.A spokesman for Chatfield said the House Republicans who participated in the trip paid their own expenses.

Shirkey returned to a group of reporters at Detroit Metro Airport at about 1:45 p.m. but declined to answer questions.

Chatfield and Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, were photographed having drinks, including what appeared to be champagne, at the Trump hotel on Friday night after their meeting with the president. The Michigan Democratic Party asked on Twitter Saturday, "Who funded the Dom Pérignon fueled vacation while Michigan reported almost 10k new cases of COVID-19?"

Michigan reported 9,779 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, a new record for daily coronavirus cases.

Bob Bauer, a legal adviser for Biden's campaign, blasted the meeting between the president and the Republican leaders of the Michigan House and Senate as the state prepares to certify its election results.

"It's an abuse of office," Bauer told reporters Friday. "It's an open attempt to intimidate election officials. It's absolutely appalling."

The Board of State Canvassers, which features two Republicans and two Democrats, is scheduled to discuss the certified county results and possibly vote on certifying the statewide election results. All 83 Michigan counties have already voted to certify their individual results.

Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, more than 14 times Trump's 2016 margin of victory: 10,704 votes.

cmauger@detroitnews.com